Google’s End of the Year Zeitgeist

    December 21, 2007

If you’re wondering what was popular in 2007, check out Google’s Zeitgeist for the year, where they list the fastest rising searches of the past 12 months.

Google Zeitgeist 2007

Google doesn’t list the most popular queries, since they don’t change much per year, and they usually feature the names of companies Google might not like so much, so instead they feature the queries that have risen in popularity the most.

The search of the year was “iPhone”, with Apple’s breakthrough semismartphone capturing the interest of the most searchers, both in the U.S. and internationally. Other queries successful both here and abroad were Youtube” (#6 internation, #5 U.S.), Facebook (#3, #9), Webkinz (stuffed animals linked to an online community, #5, #2), and Club Penguin (Disney’s online virtual world, #10, #6).

Some terms were only popular in the U.S., with the rest of the world not caring as much about TMZ, Transformers, MySpace, Heroes, and especially Anna Nicole Smith. And seriously, did anyone really care that much about Anna Nicole either, except the news media? Terms that were popular with the rest of the world, but not the United States: Badoo (a London-based social network), DailyMotion (France-based video site, third most popular after YouTube and YouPorn), eBuddy (instant messenger), virtual world Second Life and social network hi5.

You can see that this year was truly the year gossip found its home on the internet, as the gossip blog/news website overtook the traditional supermarket tabloid as the primary source of celebrity dirt. Internationally, this year all sorts of social networks and video sites found an audience, proving that Facebook, MySpace and YouTube have plenty of competition all over the world.

Unlike regular search, Google News did list the most popular queries, which included YouTube, Britney Spears (what a year she had!), Chris Benoit, the iPhone, Anna Nicole Smith and Vanessa Hudgens. Hudgens was also the fastest rising search in the third quarter of the year, proving nothing’s as popular on the internet as naked pictures of young stars.

In the political arena, Ron Paul was the most searched about candidate, owing to his small but dedicated supporter base. Paul seems to get three times as many searches as the next most popular candidate, Hillary Clinton, which would seem to indicate that his supporters are becoming quite adept at getting their candidate to the top of any chart. Oddly, Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani was in tenth place, getting less search interest than even Joe Biden and Bill Richardson.

Most popular sports team? The Boston Red Sox. Most popular touring music act? Hannah Montana. Most popular TV show? Heroes. Most popular movie? Transformers.

Despite its ridiculous hype, the Nintendo Wii didn’t overtake the Xbox 360 in searches until last month (while Sony’s PS3 flat-lined):

Game Consoles

HD DVD beat Blu-Ray. LCD TVs beat plasma. iTunes was the most popular music software, followed by Limewire (guess people still want to be sued), followed distantly by Bit Torrent (I’ve noticed how many people just still don’t know how to use torrents). The most popular ringtone was the mosquito ringtone, the high frequency sound that kids can hear, but adults can’t.

Google also lists some of the top questions people asked the search engine. “Who is god” topped the “Who” list, with “Who is satan” at the bottom (there is hope, after all!), “What is RSS” was popular (not sure if that’s good or bad), and a shocking number of people want to learn how to crochet.

Comedy Central runs this end-of-the-year comedy special called “Last Laugh”, where the comedians make fun of the top news of the last year. The message always seems to be that the past year was the worst year in human history. I’m not sure that 2007 qualifies as worst ever, though the focus on celebrity gossip this year was distressing. Hopefully next year will be all about the presidential election, and the world can focus on items of actual importance.

That, or Tara Reid will die, and it’ll be Anna Nicole Smith all over again.